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The Town introduced the Fiscal Year 2015-16 (FY16) Budget at the March 9th Town Council Meeting. The Public Hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 13th, beginning at 7 pm.
The FY16 Budget is available to view beginning on Page 8, and on the Town’s website: www.tok.md.gov. The Real Property Tax Rate was recommended to remain at $0.136 per $100 of assessed value; the Personal Property Rate (Business) was recommended to be increased from $0.62 to $0.65 per $100 of assessed value; and the Personal Property Utility Rate (Utility) was recommended to be increased from $2.80 to $3.20 per $100 of assessed value. The total operating budget for FY16 is expected to be $2,846,583.
If you have any questions about the proposed FY16 Budget, or wish to comment, but are not available for the Public Hearing on April 13th, please contact Town Manager, Sanford Daily, at SWDaily@tok.md.gov or by calling 301-949-2424.
Revitalization, Development . . . Where Are We?
I am often stopped while running errands around Town by residents asking about future development plans, and when they may happen. My response is that while revitalization doesn’t happen overnight, we actually have experienced quite a bit of change over the last eight years; and that I am very excited about what is on the horizon for Kensington.
Upon taking office in 2006, following a promise of openness and revitalization, I envisioned a Kensington with a more viable town center, dining and entertaining options, and most importantly, a pedestrian friendly community. Many of you shared this vision as well, which is what allowed us to begin the process of updating our 30 year old Master Plan with the blueprint for our future: The Kensington and Vicinity Sector Plan.
The necessity of updating the Master Plan was that while only thirty years old, it was developed upon an outdated zoning and land use strategy, especially for a semi-urban community such as ours. In addition, we had no zoning authority or say over what happened within Kensington, as we were at the mercy of the County’s planners for any new development possibilities.
The good news is that we’ve been able to change this over the last eight years by lobbying the Maryland General Assembly, through our County and State Officials, by granting us quasi-zoning authority under Article 28 (Kensington and Takoma Park are the only two municipalities in the State to have this); thus allowing for a broader voice in land use decisions and the ability to develop a plan that will allow for greater mixed use zoning, open space, pedestrian access, and housing options.
Many of you may remember our lack of dining options just a few years ago . . . the main reason for this is that most restaurants are dependent upon the sale of alcohol to generate a profit, and with our liquor regulations as prohibitive as they were, it was very difficult to entice any new restaurants to open within the town. However, we were able to amend this law too, again with the support of our County and State Officials, and have since seen a number of existing restaurants receive liquor licenses, along with the addition of four new restaurants that serve beer, wine, and/or liquor.
While the physical development phase has yet to begin, the core areas of need are Connecticut, Metropolitan, and Howard Avenues. I have met with potential developers for each of these sites and believe the proposed projects meet the vision of the community, while maintaining Kensington’s historical charm.
As with any re-development project, there are many hurdles to overcome, but overall, the process requires the cooperation from many parties, which is not always easy. While I hope to see these projects come to fruition very soon, I can promise that there will be an opportunity to allow for constructive comments prior to any final approval on any such projects.